Sunday, March 24, 2024

Breaking Down the New San Diego Prep Football Playoff Format

The CIF San Diego Section, along with representatives from across the county, has greenlit a groundbreaking change to the 11-man high school football playoff system, set to debut this upcoming season. Division placements will now be determined at the end of the Regular Season, using Cal Preps rankings. This marks a departure from the previous method where teams were locked into playoff divisions before the season based on results from the previous year. The newly approved format, passed on March 20th, is designed to foster a more intense, fair, and competitive postseason structure.

Let's explore the exciting changes and potential challenges:


- Adapts to Yearly Team Changes: Recognizes that each year brings new challenges, with teams experiencing turnover due to graduating seniors, coaching changes, and player transfers. This new stipulation allows a team that may have excelled in a higher division but has since declined in talent to be placed in a more suitable lower division, based on their current season's performance.

- Enhances Competition for Lower-Ranked Teams: Provides an opportunity for lower-ranked teams to challenge themselves against higher competition from upper divisions if they are relegated downward.

- Opt-In Division 5-AA: Programs can choose to compete in this separate 6-team bracket, protecting smaller schools who want a more level playing field against comparable opposition.

Potential Concerns:

- Potential Mismatches: There's a risk that a team with a poor record from a higher division could drop significantly to a lower division, potentially creating mismatches against teams that performed well in that lower division during the regular season.

- Enrollment Size Not Considered: Critics argue that the system doesn't take into account school enrollment size, potentially giving larger schools an advantage with a larger pool of athletes to choose from.


- Mount Miguel's Rise: Mount Miguel's remarkable 2023 season saw them achieve a new team single-season win record, clinching the Division IV crown. This success came after years of struggling, as the Matadors had not finished with a winning record since 2013. Under the new system, their 9-1 regular season finish would have propelled them to a top seed in Division II. They are currently positioned to make a run for the Open Division this year.

- Rancho Buena Vista's Fall: Conversely, Rancho Buena Vista, a Division II team that finished with a 1-9 record, would likely have been relegated to Division 5 under the new system.

The 2024 season promises to be a thrilling test for this revamped, dynamic playoff structure, offering a transparent and competitive landscape that has been both long-awaited and hated by local football enthusiasts. Stay tuned for more updates and insights as we follow the action closely.

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